Maine Organic Farmers and Gardeners Association
Pledge Local and Organic: You’ll Make a Difference

Publications \ The Maine Organic Farmer & Gardener \ Fall 2019 \ Sarah Alexander - Pledge Local and Organic

Sarah Alexander, MOFGA Executive Director
Sarah Alexander
 

By Sarah Alexander
MOFGA Executive Director

As we’re in the final days of summer, I hope everyone is enjoying the bounty of all that Maine has to offer. From eating blueberries by the handful to soaking in some time at your favorite swimming hole, it’s important to slow down and savor these moments.

This August I’ve had an opportunity to savor and really notice what I’m eating since I’ve been doing MOFGA’s local and organic pledge challenge. The pledge is to eat only local and organic for either a day, a week or a month. I chose the whole month, and it’s been a delicious excuse to branch out beyond my routine. While I thought I was already doing a good job of buying mostly local and organic, I found my weakness in crunchy snacks. I couldn’t find any local organic potato chips, tortilla chips or crackers … so I experimented in trying to make my own (with limited success).

These kinds of exercises, where we take a step back from our routine, can provide the greatest opportunity for insight. Maybe there’s a new market just waiting to be filled by a Maine organic producer. We’ve certainly got the organic potatoes and grains!

The Common Ground Country Fair is a wonderful opportunity to get out of our day-to-day routines and imagine what’s possible in our lives and in our broader communities. With over 700 workshops happening during the Fair, you can learn more about nearly any life skill you want, from knife sharpening to homebuilding to cooking and canning. Best of all, it’s a chance to experience the wonderful foods of the Fair – and they ALL follow the rules of the local and organic pledge challenge. So by eating at the Fair, whether it’s french fries or a pie cone, you’re automatically taking the pledge for at least a meal.

When we spend $1 on local and organic food, we provide that farm with $1 in direct funding, create 83 cents in spending for other local businesses and create 67 cents in spending by Maine’s organic farm families. We also help fight climate change because organic farming builds healthy soil, which sequesters carbon. Organic agriculture reduces the amount of toxic chemicals in our environment and in our bodies.

Our late executive director Russell Libby used to tout the economic impact of spending just $10 per week on local food. If we modified that today and every Mainer spent an additional $10 per week on local organic food, we would add $676 million in purchases to Maine’s farm economy annually. That could support hundreds of new farms, and provide the incentive for more land to be transitioned from chemical-intensive agriculture to organic production. Our small changes can make a big difference if enough people do them together.

Whether spending time at the Common Ground Country Fair or taking the local and organic pledge challenge, you can incorporate many meaningful actions into your everyday life that will make a big difference for Maine farms and our communities.